Both forms of this species are sequential bloomers. The inflorescence will rarely have more than 8 or 9 flowers open at one time before the older flowers begin to fall off. Plants of this species will branch when large, although this appears to be somewhat less common with var. leucaspis. Occasionally, a recent infusion of Phal. equestris will result in a flower that is not flat. In addition, the flowers may have a tendency to reflect their heritage by being somewhat sequential. Contrary to a popular misconception held by many AOS judges, P. equestris does not branch readily and many of the P. equestris hybrids do not branch readily as well, especially when young. This is not and should not be considered a fault. Moreover, many P. equestris hybrids will not display a perfectly shingled inflorescence because of the arrangement of the species parent which is passed on. Phal. equestris has flowers all around the inflorescence and many first-generation hybrids reflect this trait with their less-than-perfect arrangement.
The first commonly available multiflora hybrids were usually smaller versions of the standards: especially small pinks, small candystripes and small whites. After a time, we began to see some small whites with red lips, small French spots and even the odd small “novelty”. (It is interesting to note that even though Phal. equestris is the key species behind virtually all red-lipped whites, the multiflora version of this variety is somewhat less than plentiful.) The quality was reasonable at first and has improved to the point that, in most of these colors, we are at a very high standard. We now expect a complex multiflora, at least the “standard” multifloras, to show form similar to their large-flowered counterparts. Some of the better known early multifloras are P. Martha’s Gem (x P. Martha Daniels), P. Pearl of Mindanao (x P. Ella Freed), P. Swiss Miss (x P. Mildred Karleen), P. Sally Lowrey (x P. Pua Kea), P. Roselle (x P. Elisabethae) and P. Fledgling (x P. Far Horizon). Every seasoned phal grower knows some of the classic Phal. equestris hybrids, such as P. Berries ’n Cream (x P. Breckinridge Snow), P. Be Tris (x P. Be Glad) and P. Little Mary (x P. Mary Tuazon).
In addition to making the hybrid P. Little Mary, Richard Takase provided the late Herb Hager with one of the plants used in the first offering of Phal. equestris var. leucaspis. He is also the creator of several classic multiflora hybrids, such as P. Little Steve and P. Rose Baysa, in addition to many other classic standard hybrids.
There are some novelty P. equestris hybrids but, as a rule, other than the primary hybrids, they have been few and far between. Some of the better known novelty hybrids are P. Brother Pico Mary (x P. Super Stupid), P. Gold Tris (x P. Taipei Gold), P. Taisuco Dalin (x P. Sophie Hausermann) and P. Mistral’s Flame Triscup (x P. Hausermann’s Goldcup).
We also have to mention some of the more important primary hybrids. Those that are generally considered the most important (both potentially and actually) in multiflora breeding are Phal. Veitchiana (registered in 1872), Dtps. Purple Gem (1963), Phal. Ambotris (1970), Phal. Kuntrarti Rarashati (1986), and, of course, Phal. Cassandra. We discuss Phal. Cassandra below but the other four primary hybrids have been used so sparingly that there is very little worth mentioning at this time.